A youthful Lions side showed fantastic intent and enthusiasm to get their Super Rugby campaign with a 47-27 win over Jaguares on Saturday.
Coach Swys de Bruin’s gambit of picking eight rookies in the match squad was handsomely rewarded as they, at times, almost played the Argentinians off the park.
The hosts were full value for their victory, but the youthful zest also meant they slacked off in the closing stages, allowing the Jaguares to snatch a bonus-point away from them.
Who was the star in this match?
Given how the Lions rediscovered their hunger for tries, it was probably unfair to single out individuals. Young centre Wandisile Simelane was superb on attack and wing Courtnall Skosan, who scored a brace of tries, was an experienced presence, but the general was flyhalf Elton Jantjies, who got his backline to fire again with great decision-making and composure.
Key moments and themes
- After initially struggling to break down the Jaguares defence, the Lions started to hit their strides with their opening try by lock Rhyno Herbst in the 16th minute, who ran a brilliant line from a Jantjies delayed pass. That opened the floodgates as three more tries were scored in the first half.
- While the Lions can do a lot more to add substance to their attacking style of play, there were some very promising signs up front. The front row of Dylan Smith, Malcolm Marx and Carlu Sadie hammered their opponents at scrum time, while the lineout functioned well once a first few communication breakdowns were addressed. That’s a good platform.
- The defence on both sides was mediocre, particularly the Jaguares, who missed 26 of their 115 tackles and continue to stunt their progress through their own inconsistency.
Lions – Tries: Courtnall Skosan (2), Rhyno Herbst, Elton Jantjies, Kwagga Smith, Wandi Simelane, Marnus Schoeman. Conversions: Jantjies (6).
Jaguares – Tries: Julian Montoya (2), Ramiro Moyano, Gaspar Baldunciel, Matias Moroni, Joaquin Tuculet. Conversions: Juan Cruz Mallia (2), Joaquin Diaz Bonilla. Penalty: Diaz Bonilla.